Definition of abuse in English:


Line breaks: abuse


Pronunciation: /əˈbjuːz
[with object]
  • 1Use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose; misuse: the judge abused his power by imposing the fines
    More example sentences
    • In the election of 2000, the party in effect abused the judicial power to seize the presidency for itself, and this time the attempt succeeded.
    • He is already facing impeachment over claims that he misused public money and abused his office since coming to power a year ago.
    • That does not make sense, that is not logical, and the judge has abused his powers.
    misuse, misapply, misemploy, mishandle; exploit, pervert, take advantage of
  • 1.1Make excessive and habitual use of (alcohol or drugs, especially illegal ones): at various times in her life she abused both alcohol and drugs
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    • If we can get our kids to age 21 without smoking or using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol, they're almost certain to be home free.
    • In college I abused alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and other drugs socially, at parties.
    • The two most commonly abused drugs were amphetamine and heroin; very few offenders mentioned other drugs.
  • 2Treat with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly: riders who abuse their horses should be prosecuted
    More example sentences
    • Married off at 11 and repeatedly abused by her husband, she fought against the officially outlawed caste system, becoming a folk hero to many and a menace to others.
    • During 10 months of detention in Syria, Arar was repeatedly abused and tortured.
    • The foundation has also helped a man, who has been regularly physically abused by his wife.
    mistreat, maltreat, ill-treat, treat badly, ill-use, misuse; handle/treat roughly, knock about/around, manhandle, mishandle, maul, molest, interfere with, indecently assault, sexually abuse, sexually assault, grope, assault, hit, strike, beat; injure, hurt, harm, damage; wrong, bully, persecute, oppress, torture
    informal beat up, rough up, do over
  • 2.1Assault (someone, especially a woman or child) sexually: he was a depraved man who had abused his two young daughters (as adjective abused) abused children
    More example sentences
    • A council worker is facing prison after being convicted of sexually abusing a young girl 30 years ago.
    • A company director who sexually abused a young girl for six years has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
    • A pensioner who sexually abused young girls has walked free from court - because he is too old and frail to go to jail.
  • 2.2 (abuse oneself) • euphemistic Masturbate.
  • 2.3Use or treat in such a way as to cause damage or harm: he had been abusing his body for years
    More example sentences
    • Maybe it's because I've suddenly realised that I've abused my tired old body far more than was good for it - and me.
    • A damaged individual with a history of abusing himself and others.
    • If a woman is abusing her body during pregnancy, she is also abusing a distinct human being who exists inside of her and that human being has the same right as she not to be abused by another person.
  • 3Speak to (someone) in an insulting and offensive way: the referee was abused by players from both teams
    More example sentences
    • I do all the housework; I practically serve you while you lie around and insult and abuse me.
    • But in the post-match press conference, he accused Inter's players of verbally abusing him.
    • Their sole purpose in being at the Old Head is to disrupt our business by intimidating, insulting and abusing our guests who come from all over the world.
    insult, be rude to, swear at, curse, call someone names, taunt, shout at, scold, rebuke, upbraid, reprove, castigate, inveigh against, impugn, slur, revile, smear, vilify, vituperate against, slander, libel, cast aspersions on, offend, slight, disparage, denigrate, defame
    British informal slag off
    North American informal trash-talk
    archaic miscall


Pronunciation: /əˈbjuːs
[mass noun] Back to top  
  • 1The improper use of something: alcohol abuse [count noun]: an abuse of public funds
    More example sentences
    • This is, as I like to point out, an abuse of history.
    • He claimed the action ‘flew in the face’ of public tendering procedures set out by the Government, and was an abuse of public funds.
    • He said this was an abuse of public monies and the fact there was no contribution from the business community was ‘grossly unfair.’
    misuse, misapplication, misemployment, mishandling; exploitation, perversion
  • 1.1Unjust or corrupt practice: protection against fraud and abuse [count noun]: human rights abuses
    More example sentences
    • Of course, to prevent abuse and corrupt practices, lobbying activities should be carefully regulated, monitored and made transparent.
    • There is a lot of abuse, robbery, corruption, crime and theft of our wealth.
    • The massive corporate wave of crime, fraud and abuse rolls on, is undeterred by regular exposes in the business media itself.
    corruption, injustice, wrongdoing, wrong, misconduct, delinquency, misdeed(s), offence(s), crime, fault, sin



drug abusers
More example sentences
  • In the past 12 months more than 1,000 people have received this training and the number of alleged abusers who are investigated has doubled as a result.
  • Yes, the alleged abusers should be punished severely.
  • Some of the alleged abusers are accused of playing games of ‘doctor’ with the children.


late Middle English: via Old French from Latin abus- 'misused', from the verb abuti, from ab- 'away' (i.e. 'wrongly') + uti 'to use'.

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